Surfing on the Outer Banks

July 20, 2021 8:39 pm

Surfing on the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks is the perfect place for many outdoor activities, including surfing. You can catch some clean waves and hang 10. Whether you are a grom or an old pro, you are sure to find some waves to ride here. OBX is renowned as one of the best places to ride some waves on the East Coast. Surfers from around the country and the world flock to our shores in search of the perfect swell.

Proffessional Surfer

Surfing safety 101

It is important that you know your experience level – and limits – before heading into the water. The surf in the OBX ranges from easily flat to extremely dangerous. If you are totally new to the sport, you should take some surf lessons from one of the local surf shops before tackling the waves on your own. Some of the places that offer basic training to newbies include:

  • Corolla Surf Shop has taught safe, informative, and fun surfing classes since 1996.
  • Duck Village Outfitters rents equipment and offers private and group lessons.
  • Farmdog Surf School offers equipment rentals and a surf and SUP school that provides structured and safe lessons.
  • REAL Water Sports provides surfing lessons and camps for all skill levels.
  • WRV offers surf camps and lessons from professional surfer Brendan Petticrew and his team of highly skilled surf instructors.

Choosing a board … and a wave

Once you know how to safely navigate the waters, choosing a surfboard – and the perfect wave – is next on the agenda. Waves are tricky. Everyone dreams of riding the best swell, but not everyone is skilled enough to do so safely. 

Beginners are urged to stick with 1-to-3-foot waves so they do not get overwhelmed. Experienced surfers can handle waves over 3 feet. Whether you are a novice or a pro, choosing to surf with a buddy (or a group of friends) is recommended. If you do not have anyone to surf with, make sure you are surfing in an area near other surfers who can assist if you need help.

Choosing a surfboard to suit your experience level is easy. As a rule, the longer the surfboard, the steadier your ride. Wax your board so you do not slip off, and ensure there is a leash tied to your board and your ankle. This will keep you from losing your board and potentially hitting and injuring another nearby person.

Most northern beaches have lifeguards on duty every few miles if you get into trouble. If you are by yourself, make sure you stay within view of a lifeguard. It is also important to respect other surfers’ space.

Finding the best surf

Like boards and wave sizes, the location you choose depends on your skill level. Advanced surfers appreciate the southern beaches. They also enjoy Pea Island for its great swell. Locals always know the best spots since OBX has shifting sand bars. Do not be afraid to ask other surfers where they recommend.

Near the piers is also great surf, so long as you stay 300 feet away to avoid any fishing hooks. Typically, northeast or east winds produce choppy waves, while the best glassy, clean waves come from offshore winds. Tropical storms and hurricanes shift the winds onshore, creating barrel-type waves that are fun for advanced surfers.

A final word on OBX surfing

Surfers love the Outer Banks for its fun, kind, and mellow atmosphere. There are plenty of waves for locals and tourists to ride. Just remember to have fun, be safe, and respect your fellow surfers for the best experience.